In the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Denny Hamlin played the patience game most of the day to capture his seventh win of the season on Sunday in what was a wreck fest from start to finish.
Here’s how it all transpired at the track.
Hamlin led the field to the drop of the green flag to get the party started at Talladega Superspeedway. The field wasn’t able to make it around to the start-finish line before the caution came out.
Christopher Bell in the No. 95 Toyota Camry, lost it in turn three, going into four, collecting Tyler Reddick’s No. 8 Chevy Camaro in the process. Reddick was able to get back on the track, while Bell went to the garage after making a half a lap.
Hamlin led the field back to green on lap four, and by lap six, the scoring put all three playoff Joe Gibbs Toyotas in line. Martin Truex Jr. in his No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry in 2nd and Kyle Bush in his No. 18 M&M’ Toyota Camry in third.
Then on lap seven, the second caution of the day came out as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in his No. 47 Hungry Jack Chevy Camaro, got turned by John Hunter Nemechek in his No. 38 Ford Mustang.
Hamlin continued to lead the field as they went back green on lap 12. In record-setting fashion, just as they started to get up to speed, the caution came back out. This time it was for the No. 32 machine of Corey LaJoie, who’s Mustang had stalled out in turn one.
The field went back green on lap 15, with Hamlin still in the lead. On Lap 17, Joey Logano in his No. 22 Ford Mustang, took over the lead as the field ran three-wide around the 2.5-mile Superspeedway. Though, it didn’t take long for Hamlin to regain the lead on lap 19.
This would stay true through to the competition caution on lap 25, with Hamlin leading the field. The field went back green on lap 30 with Logano leading the field. Then on lap 31, Aric Almirola in the No. 10 Ford Mustang took over the lead. He maintained that momentarily before Logano regained it on lap 34 on the outside lane.
Ryan Blaney wanted in on the action and took point on the inside lane and took over the lead on lap 35. Then it was Erik Jones in the No. 20 Sports Clips Toyota Camry getting in on the action on lap 36 taking over the lead on the outside lane.
While all this was going on, Hamlin and Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Jimmy Johns Ford Mustang had bailed out to the back of the pack to avoid any carnage that could ensue from the aggressive moves of the lead pack.
Ryan Blaney took over the lead on lap 43 with his Penske teammates in tow, Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Ford Mustang in 2nd and Logano in third.
With ten laps to go in the stage, Logano made his move to take the lead. Then the Toyotas went to the outside lane as the field shuffled a bit, and Jones took the lead. The shuffle continued with Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Chevy Camaro took over the lead on lap eight. With six laps left in the stage, Almirola was back to P1, as the shuffle heated up.
The field fanned out three-wide for the final four laps of the stage. Then it happened, Talladega… Alex Bowman in the No. 88 Chevy Camaro got pushed from behind by Logano, who was shoved by the No. 18 of Kyle Busch. This ended the day for Almirola.
In his No. 17 Sunny D Ford Mustang, Chris Buescher ended up in the lead after the carnage and would take stage one. Chase Elliott led the field to the drop of the green flag on lap 66. Then two laps later, the caution flew with Kyle Busch losing his left front tire, destroying his front left fender.
Hamlin was tagged for speeding. Buescher would lead the field back to the drop of the green flag on lap 74. Then on lap 75, Jones retook the lead momentarily before conceding back to Buescher. Then on lap 81, it was Jones back to P1 on the outside, with Matt DiBenedetto on the inside in P2.
As the field got to the start-finish line for laps 86, green flag pit stops got underway, led by Elliott in the No. 9. On lap 108, Jimmie Johnson took the lead.
On the ensuing lap, Clint Bowyer in the No. 14 Ford Mustang got into the back of Johnson and sent him hooking left down towards the No. 1 of Kurt Busch, who was hooked and sent right up into the outside wall. This sent Kurt airborne over the top of the No. 41 of Cole Custer. This was just the start of a 13 car pileup and a ten minute and 27-second red flag.
With seven laps left in stage two, the field went back green, with Elliott leading the field. It took just two laps for Logano to take over the lead with DiBenedetto pushing him, with Buescher helping in third. Things got wild with Logano taking the lead and then Truex Jr. taking over the lead. In the No. 8 Chevy Camaro, Tyler Reddick also took over the lead during the flurry of lead changes.
Truex Jr. would score the stage win as the green-white-checkered flag flew. Corey LaJoie got the free pass to get back on the lead lap.
The field went back green with 63 laps to go, with Truex Jr. leading the field. He would succumb to Keselowski on lap 62, and then Reddick took it over with 61 to go.
With 59 laps to go, Bubba Wallace in the 43 Chevy Camaro moved to P1, with Alex Bowman in the No. 88 in tow. He would stay there until 53 to go when Keselowski regained the lead.
With 51 laps to go, Johnson took his No. 48 machine to the garage. He would make his way back out with just under 45 laps to go. Logan took the lead over as well at this point. This led the field to calm down a bit and started running single file, in what could be called the calm before the storm.
Once Johnson’s car was caught up to the field, the back end of the No. 48 was turbulently disintegrating. This brought out the caution on lap 148 with 40 to go.
The field went back green with 36 laps to go and Logano leading the field. William Byron in the No. 24 Chevy Camaro took over the lead with 35 to go. Logano then took it back over with the No. 37 of Ryan Preece in tow.
Things stayed pretty single file until there were 30 to go. That’s when Elliott took to the inside lane with a slew of cars in tow on his way to the lead. Bubba Wallace got a push from Truex Jr. to take the lead with 26 laps to go.
Logano took over P1 with 24 to go with Keselowski in tow. With 21 laps to go, Elliott went back to P1, taking the inside lane with Logano charging on the outside.
Logano regained the lead with 18 laps to go with Keselowski still in tow. Bubba regained the lead with eight laps to go. Then Wallace got into the wall after getting clipped by Preece in the No. 37 and stalled his pace with six laps to go. This caused the caution to come back out with only five laps to go.
This setup NASCAR Overtime, and chaos as the field made their way back to the start-finish line. Ahead of the start-finish line, Reddick clipped Kyle Busch in the No. 18, starting a chain reaction of a record 12th caution at Talladega. This ended the day for Busch and set up Overtime No. 2. Chase Elliott was in the lead as the red flag flew yet again.
In overtime number two, the field couldn’t get back around to the white-flag ahead of a 13th caution of the day. Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney found themselves in a crunch coming out if they turned through three into four. This would lead the race into new territory as the longest ever race at Dega in terms of laps.
DiBenedetto led the field to the drop of the green flag on the third overtime. He took the inside, and Hamlin took the outside lane. They would finally make it to the white flag and that’s when cars started dropping like flies. Though the race remained green and as they made their way through turn four, DiBenedetto went low to block William Byron, sending him below the yellow line, as well as Hamlin, who tried to avoid hitting the 24 of Byron.
Hamlin and DiBenedetto fought to the line, and Hamlin edged him out. However, the race went under review to determine who pushed who below the yellow line. It was determined that DiBenedetto was, in fact, at fault. This took away his 2nd place finish and pushed him back to 21st, giving Erik Jones the 2nd place finish.
Denny Hamlin was scored the winner and advances to the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. The Cup Series will now head to Charlotte next week for the Roval.